The Hobbit: just what’s in the appendices?

Feature NP Horton 1 Aug 2012 - 15:28

Peter Jackson’s making three Hobbit movies. But is there enough material in The Lord Of The Rings’ appendices to fill them? Nick takes a look…

Note: this article may contain potential spoilers for those who haven't yet read The Hobbit.

So then, The Hobbit will be a trilogy. That slim children’s book has grown from one film, into two, and now three. As Peter Jackson himself confirmed, “The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord Of The Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.”

Back in the days when Guillermo Del Toro was attached to direct, the two filmmakers announced that The Hobbit would be two films, with the first movie finishing at chapter 14 (the death of Smaug and the gathering of the five armies), leaving the final five chapters and yep, material from the appendices, to fill out the second movie.

Well, now it’s three, and there’s still the same amount of material to play with. So I’ve had a look through the thousand or so pages of the appendices found at the back of The Lord Of The Rings to see just what’s in there for Jackson to use. From the statement he released, partly quoted above, it doesn’t seem as though he intends to make the bridging film between The Hobbit and The Fellowship Of The Ring that many assumed, but instead tell the complete story of The Hobbit.

Now, I’m not going to lie, the appendices are pretty hardcore, even for a Tolkien fan like me. There’s a lot of this type of stuff: “The crown was claimed by Earnil… He was the son Siriondil, son of Calimmacil, son of Arciryas brother of Narmacil II”. 

However, there’s a fair bit of stuff that can be expanded upon, and provide some epic scope to this new trilogy. Here are a few potential stories or pieces of material they could use… 

Dwarves

If The Lord Of The Rings can be seen as the story of last days of Elves and the rising of man, then The Hobbit is most definitely a tale about the Dwarves. In the appendices is a wealth of backstory about them, which could easily constitute some amazing flashbacks and extra story material which not only would fill out the gaps in the story, but also fit The Hobbit into the wider narrative of the rise of Sauron, and Gandalf’s efforts to defeat him. 

In appendix A you discover how the Dwarves came to Erebor, commonly known as the Lonely Mountain. It is here they discover the Arkenstone, Middle-earth’s most precious jewel, and it is this wealth which attracts the attention of Smaug the Golden, who without warning launches an attack on the mountain, destroying the power of the Dwarves. This would make for an excellent flashback perhaps, and would definitely make Smaug a powerful and terrifying screen presence. 

The king of the Lonely Mountain at this time is a dwarf named Thror, grandfather of Thorin Oakenshield. Before his death (in Moria) he passes on his vengeance on Smaug to his heirs, thereby setting up the narrative drive of The Hobbit. It is Thorin’s father who first seeks to return to Erebor, but on his way there he is captured by Sauron and taken to Dol Guldur to be tortured, as he was in possession of one of the seven rings of power, tying in nicely to Sauron and his return.

While these serve as set-up to The Hobbit, and a wider link to the grand Rings narrative, there is a section which could easily be framed within The Hobbit as an event set in the present – the meeting of Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield. A chance encounter in Bree one night, the two found that they had a shared dream – to rid the Lonely Mountain of Smaug. 

Thorin wished to reclaim his birthright, while Gandalf sought to put a strong dwarf king in the north, to act as a buffer against Sauron and stop him allying with Smaug (which would have been awesome by the way). This meeting could easily sit in the film, and indeed The Hobbit would be all the richer if the history of Erebor and why it was so important (both in the past, present and future) was made clear to the audience. Plus the chance for more Smaug and Gandalf should always be welcomed.

The Necromancer and Dol-Guldur 

Casting a long shadow over The Hobbit is the Necromancer. An unknown villain who Gandalf is concerned about, it becomes clear that it is none other than Sauron, once again returned to power. If Jackson wants to truly make The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings mesh together into one epic film then tying it to the rise and fall of Sauron, and his quest for the One Ring is surely the way to do it? 

After a defeat long ago by men, Sauron returns under the guise of the Necromancer to his new fortress of Dol Guldur and begins to build his power over hundreds of years, gathering the rings of power to him. As mentioned above, to this end he captures Thorin’s father and imprisons him. Gandalf, who is suspicious about the Necromancer’s true nature, at this time visits Dol Guldur and discovers the truth that Sauron is returning.

He also finds Thrain and receives the keys to Erebor, putting in place his plan to help Thorin reclaim it from Smaug. You could easily imagine a sub-plot involving Sauron hunting for the One Ring, as well as building his armies. It is only when Saruman discovers that Sauron is hunting for it that he finally agrees to Gandalf’s request to attack Dol Guldur, using it as a pretext to stop Sauron from finding the One Ring before him. This attack takes place at the same time as the Battle of the Five Armies, providing a useful and epic counter-point to what will surely be one of the highlights of the new films.

What also fits in nicely is the parallel journeys at the end of The Hobbit. While Bilbo returns to the Shire with his ‘magic ring’, Sauron returns to Mordor  – what an exciting way to finish the films and set up the audience for The Lord Of The Rings trilogy! I genuinely hope they finish on this foreboding cliff-hanger, as it would make want to go straight into the next set of movies. 

Saruman

The other hidden villain of the piece is, of course, Saruman. Much of the appendices are about him, ranging from the time he enters the world, initially acting as a force for good, to his gradual descent into evil. Of particular note is how he befriends Gondor and convinces them to hand over Isengard to him, before discovering that the One Ring still exists and beginning a secret search for it. 

It is Saruman who stops the White Council from attacking Dol Guldur (hoping that if Sauron were left alone, the One Ring would reveal itself to him), and then eventually decides to act when it becomes clear Sauron may gain the Ring before him. What is interesting about Saruman in The Hobbit is that he is not yet fully evil, nor under the power of Sauron yet, instead acting as an unknown quantity who can help and hinder equally. 

It is only towards the end that his villainy really becomes apparent, when using the White Council for his own ends. However, his turn to evil is still undiscovered by the time of The Fellowship Of The Ring, which allows Christopher Lee the chance to ham it up as both a hero and villain.

Bridge

But what if the third Hobbit film did provide a bridge to The Lord Of The Rings? Now I’m not sure how feasible this is, as it would require a lot more than using existing footage and reshoots, but Appendix A has a few things concerning a certain ranger and his time in Gondor. While known as Thorongil, Aragorn gets up to all sorts, including leading a fleet into battle against the Corsairs, and going one on one with their captain in battle.

There’s also this intriguing line from the story of his meeting Arwen, which would be perfect for any bridge film: “It came to pass that when Aragorn was nine and forty years of age he returned from perils on the dark confines of Mordor, where Sauron now dwelt again and was busy with evil”. This is then backed up by a further entry in Appendix B: “2957-80 – Aragorn undertakes his great journeys and errantries”.

That’s 23 years of events you can basically invent to serve your own purpose!

Sadly, the majority of the appendices are accounts of family trees, language, and calendar dates, so there’s little to mine there, unless Peter Jackson is planning on making a Middle-earth episode of Who Do You Think You Are. But is there enough from the points above to justify three movies? I trust Jackson a lot, especially in Tolkien’s world, but I do fear for the simple journey of Bilbo Baggins. That in itself is about a film’s length, so there is a very real danger of the extra material, as epic and cinematic as it undoubtedly is, proving far too much of a distraction.

Don’t get me wrong, I was the kid who always wanted to know more about the Necromancer and just what Gandalf was up to when I read the book, so to potentially see it on-screen is a dream come true – I just worry that it will be at the cost of the main journey, leaving a meandering film with a stilted narrative drive.

I really hope I’m wrong though, and will enjoy being proved so over the next few years.

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I can see how you could make two films (with both around the 160 minutes mark) but I just get the feeling that Peter Jackson is pushing it here, I'm in the minority that thinks many (not all) of the restored scenes in the LOTR extended editions were extraneous and unnecessarily padded out the already considerable running time(s), and I fear the same thing might be happening again, only this time Jackson is bypassing the DVD/Blu-Ray extended versions and just releasing the whole kit-and-kaboodle into cinemas... "I have a bad feeling about this" but I hope I'm wrong...

Meh. Peter Jackson sits down and sings about gold. Thats why its a trilogy.

I suppose Jackson could also draw material from The Simarillion.

+Flag as inappropriateIt has been often said that the structure of The Hobbit is a microcosm of the structure of The Lord of the Rings. Hence based on how The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was structured it wouldn't surprise me if the trilogy is split at when Bilbo and the Dwarves arrive at Esgaroth and at the death of Smaug. I think the first movie will be linear with the journey of Bilbo and the Dwarves being told in the context of the White Council dealing with the delaying tactics of Saruman who only relents to the attack on Dol Guldur at the end of the movie, which will only be understood at the end of the second movie when Saruman is seen communicating with Sauron through the palantir after Sauron has gone from Dol Guldur at which point the audience discovers that that he was feigning being driven out of Dol Guldur. I think the second movie will intercut between three plot strands: the action around Bilbo and the Dwarves at the Mountain which leads to Smaug sacking Esgaroth, the strategies around the White Council attacking DolGuldur and Beorn and the Beornings' defence of the Men of the Vales of Anduin from the Orcs and Wargs that attack their viillages to explain how Beorn becomes the chief of that area. Meanwhile, the third movie will bring these strands together to first tell of the besieging of the Lonely Mountain by the Elves and Men and then them helping the Dwarves with their defence of the Mountain from the Orcs and Wargs. And the movie may end with a 20 min denouement where old Bilbo is heard narrating as young Bilbo travels home which is interspersed with scenes showing how the Lonely Mountain, Dale, Esgaroth and the Desolation of the Dragon changes over the years and how this prompts Balin to set off to Moria to create a colony there. Then old Bilbo could be seen with Frodo who says: 'So the old prophecies have come true in a sense?', At which Bilbo says that of course they did and his adventures and escapes were not for his benefit, after all he was just a Hobbit and they aren't big people in the world, to which Frodo replies; 'Thank goodness'. Then perhaps the subtitles could roll on Gollum leaving the Misty Mountains and on him travelling in the lands around eventually coming to Mordor and then on Aragorn hunting for him and then capturing him in the Dead Marshes leaving the audience with the impression that there are other tales to tell.
In order to help develop the different plot strands the appendices information on the Rohirrim will be referred to so to help develop the Beornings and Bardings because of their relationship with the Rohirrim. Also, the appendices information on the Gondorians will be referred to so to help develop the Esgarothians because of their relationship with the Gondorians. Meanwhile, the appendices information on the Orc and Dwarves war will be referred to so to help explain their relationship with each other. Also, the appendices information on the Dwarves' relationship with the Rohirrim will be referred to so to help explain their relationship with the Beornings and the Bardings. And information in the Lord of the Rings that didn't make it into the Lord of the Rings movies on the Dwarves relationship with the Elves will make it into the Hobbit movies as well as information in the Lord of the Rings book on Hobbits and maybe even on Aragorn's people in the north that didn't make it into the Lord of the Rings movies to help develop these things as well. That should give a lot of information to help flesh out the movies. In order to help develop the different plot strands the appendices information on the Rohirrim will be referred to so to help develop the Beornings and Bardings because of their relationship with the Rohirrim. Also, the appendices information on the Gondorians will be referred to so to help develop the Esgarothians because of their relationship with the Gondorians. Meanwhile, the appendices information on the Orc and Dwarves war will be referred to so to help explain their relationship with each other. Also, the appendices information on the Dwarves' relationship with the Rohirrim will be referred to so to help explain their relationship with the Beornings and the Bardings. And information in the Lord of the Rings that didn't make it into the Lord of the Rings movies on the Dwarves relationship with the Elves will make it into the Hobbit movies as well as information in the Lord of the Rings book on Hobbits and maybe even on Aragorn's people in the north that didn't make it into the Lord of the Rings movies to help develop these things as well. That should give a lot of information to help flesh out the movies.
I also think that the first movie may begin with a prologue spoken by Galadriel that shows things that didn't occur in the prologue of the Lord of the Rings such as Anatar helping the Elven-smiths with creation of the Rings, becoming Sauron when he makes his own Ring, the Three Rings actually being given to Gil-galad, Cirdan and Galadriel by the Elven-smiths, Gil-galad being thrown to his death at the battle where the Ring was taken by Sauron's mace and him giving his ring to Elrond as he lays dying, an off-screen Isildur taking the Ring off an on-screen Sauron, the Ring then seen falling to the bottom of the river, Greenwood becoming Mirkwood, Sauron being seen in Dol Guldur, the Istari arriving at the Grey Havens and Cirdan giving his ring to Gandalf, Deagol's hand picking up the Ring from the bottom of the river, the White council meeting for the first time, an off-screen attack by Smaug on an onscreen Lonely Mountain, Thror, Thrain and Thorin leading the Dwarves away from the Mountain, an old Bilbo with Frodo at Bag End. Meanwhile, the second movie could open with a more detailed attack on Dale and the Lonely Mountain by an onscreen Smaug in all his might and more detail of the escape of the Dale Men and the Dwarves. And the third movie could open with a detailed history of the Dwarves in exile from leaving the Lonely Mountain to Gandalf meeting Thorin at Bree, which could introduce Dain killing Azog in the battle outside Moria in the Dwarf-Orc war.

Yeah, the stuff cut from the extended editions WERE extraneous, that's why they were cut from the cinema releases. It's kind of the point. But I do agree that 3 movies is a step too far for the available material, given that Fellowship of the Ring is about twice the number of pages that The Hobbit is.

As a kid I was always intrigued by Elronds mention of the Goblin Wars & Gondolin when studying Orcrist & Glamdring

A true 'Den of Geek' article this!

First he'd have to find the only person who's read it all the way thru so he can find out what happens in it.

Whilst Jackson is rightfully lauded for his adaptation of LotRs I'm always left feeling let down when I watch RotK, as it skips over the most important part of the whole story, the Scouring of the Shire.

Why most important? Because it shows you have to fight evil on your own doorstep and stand up for yourself and that even a species of small people can defeat a mighty foe. (Yeah, not about fascism at all, JRR).
So to now to get three films possibly half of which will be filler is just irksome.
Plus even in the book, chapter 3, where they meet the trolls is just dull.

Have faith!

What would you rather go see? More Pirates of the Caribbean?

Bloody hell. Why did they bother re-hiring Jackson?

The battle at Dol Guldur doesn't take place during the Battle of the Five Armies. If it did, Gandalf would not be there. It takes place during the period between the Dwarves getting captured by the Elves and the events at the Lonely Mountain pre-Smaug's death.

If you haven't read the Hobbit then I'm going to have to confiscate your geek card. Didn't everybody read the Hobbit in Primary school? Its a great starter book in the fantasy genre.

Hardest book I ever tried reading. Must try again one day.

I volunteer! (Not just because of Peter Jackson - The Silmarillion's actually my favourite Tolkien book, and one of my favourite books in general, actually.)
I doubt Christopher Tolkien is letting anyone with a camera, least of all Peter Jackson, anywhere near the Silmarillion though.

So many people keep commenting on the fact that "The Hobbit" is so much shorter than "LOTR", and how can you get 3 movies out of one book. Yes, that is very true. It is quite a bit shorter, but people keep forgetting that Tolkien's narrative style for The Hobbit is very different from LOTR. It is FAR less descriptive and geared towards a younger audience. If The Hobbit was written in the same narrative style as LOTR (especially Fellowship), it would be much much longer. Have some faith people. Peter Jackson will do an amazing job!! This is the man who gave us 3 of the best films of our time!! (IMO)...let's extend our trust.

That may be the stupidest question I have ever heard!

And this maybe the stupidest comment I have ever read. intheshadow was merely complimenting Brian Boru.

False dichotomy. I won't be skipping the Hobbit in favor of some other movie, I'll be skipping it in favor of spending time with friends, or taking walks with my dog, or maybe just re-reading Tolkien.

Sorry, I didn't take it that way; I thought it was a strike against PJ...now I get it! Sorry, in the shadow!

I'd love to see all of this in there!!!

To me, the Scouring of the Shire always felt like filler, though. Not even that, it was just very tacked-on, if you ask me. They defeat the great, big evil three chapters in to Book Six and then this extra battle just feels so anti-climactic. If it had been earlier in the story, perhaps. Maybe Merry or Pippin or Merry and Pippin find their way to the Shire to find Saruman in control. But it just feels a bit of a chore to read to me after the massive finale on Mount Doom and at the Black Gate.

Indeed I was as BB's post was beyond Impassioned! props!

I have read it all the way through and I must say it was the hardest book i've ever read, did I understand it all, no I think it would take about three or four reads to understand it all.... sod that

Same here. I've never been that big of a Tolkien fan to begin with, and that last LotR movie really burned me out with the seventeen "endings". Honestly, while I don't begrudge Tolkien fans their lore, I just don't see how or why people get excited to see Peter Jackson movies. They're pretty....and then what? But, that's just me.

Also, let me add, that the casting look amazing. Martin Freeman is a winner in every role. Love that guy.

Nope I did Elidor and Weirdstone instead.

The white council attack does not happen at the same time has the battle of 5 armies has Gandlaf is both at the battle of 5 armies and was earlier involed in the attack on Dol Gulder by the white council. Otherwise not a bad summary of what could be in the film.

Gandalf that is and sorry for any other typos

The thing is, has anyone actually said how long each film is going to run for?

I think a lot of people are basing the argument that there's not enough story to fill 3 LotR length films. Which is probably true, there's not really enough story to fill 9 hours+ worth of cinema time. However, 3 films at 2 hours a go? That shouldn't be too bad

Of course they should rehire Peter Jackson. I got all these ideas from him from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I always liked the fact that the final, epic battle was followed by a smaller, more personal skirmish.

I did Garner AND Tolkein.

If they were extraneous, then why put them back? Peter Jackson could have had the definitive cuts released in the cinemas if he wanted to, and left scenes he loved but had to cut for a 'deleted scenes' section on the DVD's, but Jackson has an unfortunate blind spot when it comes to judicious editing choices and tight running times - the extended edition of 'King Kong' anyone? - and I fear this is what's happening with 'The Hobbit' films; he could tell the whole story in two 165-minute (or thereabouts) films that take their sweet time, and with all the character moments alongside the big battles that he wants, we don't need to actually SEE every last background detail that Tolkien wrote about, sometimes less is more...

To each their own, I suppose. Perhaps it works better in the book than it would have cinematically?

NO.

Didn't they give up on the idea of the bridge film years ago, and have not mentioned it since? Then why does it pop up in every article and comments section since this third film announcement? Can't people keep up?

why all the posturing? just admit that you will end up seeing it despite your reservations and get it over with.

................................. So... enough for a trilogy then. :D

Read the second top comment if you're worried about lack of content.

No posturing necessary. I didn't see the LOTR trilogy in theaters either, only on DVD. I'm never been a Jackson fangirl and I see no reason to change now.

oh. alright then.

Yeah I agree 'The Scouring of the Shire' really only works in the book then the film. The defeat of Sauron was the climax of the film so having to deal with a de-powered Saruman right after would have been pushing it. Plus it would have made the Hobbits' victory hollow because the whole point of their journey was to prevent an invasion of the Shire. By the time Sauron is defeated the audience is already emotionally drained and happy that the heroes have won. They want the film to start winding down and end the many story arcs of the main characters. Putting in the 'Scouring of the Shire' would of thrown off the pacing of the film and make it appear disjointed. Books don't have the same restrictions on them as films do, so changes have to take place somewhere.

Lovely post Brian, as a big fan of the appendices I concur with a lot of what you have said. However I'm slightly confused by all this business of something offscreen interacting with something onscreen...? I can't deny I'd love to see some of the things in the Apendecies, much as I enjoyed seeing The Last Alliance of Elves and Men in FOTR. However I have yet to see a good prequel, it just doesn't make any sense to me to show something when you know how it will end.

The film I'd like to see is a modern retelling of the tale of Beren and Luthien from the Silmarillion but it's not likely to happen. There are so many epic events in the Silmirillion which could be re-interpreted. It's a shame that his estate are so reluctant really, especially as Tolkien's letters make clear he was at least at one time very keen for people to expand on his universe with new tales, with his talk of creating a new British mythology that everyone could share in.

The thing with the Silmirillion is that it's written in a mythic style in the manner of Homer's Odyssey and Illiad rather than in the form of a modern novel. This actually makes it perfect for someone to do a modern reinterpretation. I mean there is barely any dialogue and much of it reads a outlines rather than narrative as we usually understand it, so there's huge scope to develop the characters and themes while respecting the source material. Look how many times the Odyssey has been retold for different generations. It is rather hard to read I agree but it contains some of the most powerful scenes in literature.

Yeah. Consider this paragraph from The Hobbit: 'At first they had passed through hobbit-lands, a wide respectable country inhabited by decent folk, with good roads, an inn or two, and now and then a dwarf or a farmer ambling by on business. Then they came to lands where people spoke strangely, and sang songs Bilbo had never heard before. Now they had gone on far into the Lone-lands, where there were no people left, no inns, and the roads grew steadily worse'. Tolkien expands this into nine chapters on the Hobbits meeting Farmer Maggot and Tom Bombadil and then coming to the Prancing Pony Inn and Weathertop in The Lord of the Rings, all which Jackson had to cut down. Meanwhile, for The Hobbit he is probably going to have to do the opposite. Three things stand out in my mind, which might develop this: He has cast someone to play Drogo Baggins, an actor playing one of the Dwarves sung the song that Frodo sings in LOTR in the Prancing Pony in an interview and Bilbo is seen in the trailer picking up the shards of Narsil. Here's some ideas. The Hobbits in Hobbiton gossip about Bilbo talking with Gandalf, some saying that despite being of Tookish descent his Baggins' descent will prevent him from doing anything unexpected and a Hobbit says that doesn't stop his cousin Drogo from associating with those queer Brandybucks who live on the wrong side of the River. Bilbo then meets Drogo as he travels to Buckland with the Dwarves, Drogo coming back from seeing Primula Brandybuck, and Bilbo asks Drogo to keep the Sackville-Baggins out of Bag End while he is away, Jackson thus omitting while acknowledging how the SBs do this in the book. Then there is a scene in the Prancing Pony Inn where the Dwarves sing the song. Bilbo then gets a little history lesson about the decline of the Northern Kingdom as they pass through the Lone-lands, which sets up the Troll scene who are a few of many Trolls who are being woken up for a battle with the stone giants of the Mountains and the Beornings when all the land is covered in darkness in the second movie, from Dol Guldur until Sauron leaves, with his departure resulting in all the Trolls turning to stone when the darkness breaks up.

right whit you, Gillermo del Toro ROCKS!

You've managed to read the article and enough blogging to make an extra hobbit film and you're NOT a tolkien fan?!?

Correction: I'm a Martin Freeman Fan. ;)

Very good article. Even though I feel like there is nothing to worry about, I can see the concerns. But we are dealing with Jackson. He respects source material too much to screw this up. It will work.

fyi if peter jackson needs someone to help him finish the hobbit trilogy ..ive got all the concept to make it more interesting...email:terencee53@gmail.com.....The Hobbit have a story to tell the audience how necromancer (sauron) fights with rest of the world and hires sauraman.....folks do any of u remember how sauron hands got slayed in the two towers it will be interesting to see dat in the upcoming tales of the hobbit (2)...the orcs joining forces under saurons command and the dragons screeching noise in the air....cant wait

He could not help it, it was that stubborn youth puff weather. They should then al brok n energy and south american temperament his, against the belgian would she kou, despite the fact that they all many years in the monkey land tarried, never be washing his.

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